Highest-scoring championship games in sports history

NFL


When Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams face off against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in Atlanta, we could be in for a high-scoring affair.

The Rams and Patriots were both in the top four in the NFL in points per game during the 2018 regular season with L.A. coming in second at 32.9 points per game and New England fourth with 27.3.

This postseason, the Patriots are first in points per game with 39.0, and the Rams are third with 28.0.

Could this be the highest-scoring Super Bowl ever? Let’s take a look back at championship games across sports that have set records for the most total points or goals scored.


NFL

Super Bowl XXIX — Jan. 29, 1995

San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26

at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami

Notable performers

49ers: Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Ricky Watters, Deion Sanders

Chargers: Stan Humphries, Junior Seau, Natrone Means

What went down: It was no surprise to see San Francisco put on a show. The 49ers scored a league-best 505 points during the regular season to finish 13-3. Young was the league’s top passer with a rating of 112.8, earning MVP honors. San Diego, on the other hand, was the No. 2 seed in the AFC but had to come back in the second half of both of its playoff wins to advance to the Super Bowl.

In Miami, Young led the 49ers to victory over the Chargers, throwing for 325 yards and six touchdowns, including three to Rice, who had 149 yards receiving. Watters also scored three touchdowns — two receiving and one rushing — for San Francisco. Humphries had 275 yards passing and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions in the loss. Not only was it the highest-scoring Super Bowl with 75 total points scored, but the teams also set a record by combining for 10 total touchdowns.


MLB

World Series Game 4 — Oct. 20, 1993

Toronto Blue Jays 15, Philadelphia Phillies 14

at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia

Notable performers

Blue Jays: Rickey Henderson, Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Tony Fernandez, Paul Molitor

Phillies: Lenny Dykstra, Milt Thompson, Darren Daulton

What went down: The final score from Game 4 of the 1993 World Series looked more like a football score than a baseball, with a combined 29 runs scored. The Blue Jays went into the game up 2-1 in the series against the Phillies, and after 4 hours, 14 minutes, came away with the 15-14 win and a 3-1 series lead. At the time, it was the longest World Series game, and the most runs scored by a losing team.

Remarkably, the Blue Jays won the game and scored 15 runs without hitting a single home run. It helped that they had three players who finished in the top 10 in batting average that season, including John Olerud, Molitor and Alomar. The game was truly a balanced effort, though, as six players had a least two hits.


NBA

NBA Finals Game 1 — April 14, 1967

Philadelphia 76ers 141, San Francisco Warriors 135 (OT)

at The Spectrum in Philadelphia

Notable performers

76ers:Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham

Warriors:Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond

What went down: The 1967 NBA Finals pitted the best team in the East against the best team in the West. The two teams made the most field goals per game and were the highest-scoring teams in a 10-team league.

In Game 1, the highest-scoring one with 276 total points, both teams set the tone for what would be a high-scoring series. All six Finals games were high-scoring affairs, with only one instance where a team (the Warriors in Game 2) failed to crack the 100-point threshold. In the Sixers’ 141-135 win, Greer led the way with 32 points, and Chamberlain chipped in with a massive 33 rebounds. On the Warriors’ end, Barry tallied 37 points and Thurmond had 31 rebounds.


NHL

Stanley Cup Final Game 5 — May 8, 1973

Chicago Blackhawks 8, Montreal Canadiens 7

at the Montreal Forum in Montreal

Notable performers

Blackhawks: Stan Mikita, Jim Pappin

Canadiens: Claude Larose, Yvan Cournoyer

What went down: Chicago and Montreal claimed three of the top 10 scoring leaders for the 1972-73 season, and at least one team scored at least four goals in every matchup of the six-game Stanley Cup Final, won by the Canadiens.

In the record-breaking Game 5, six players scored for each team, respectively. Mikita and Pappin each scored twice for Chicago, and Larose had two goals for Montreal. The Blackhawks scored five of their eight goals in the second period.


Colleges

College Football Playoff National Championship — Jan. 11, 2016

Alabama Crimson Tide 45, Clemson Tigers 40

at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

Notable performers

Alabama: Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard, Jake Coker

Clemson: Deshaun Watson, Hunter Renfrow

What went down: No. 1 Clemson and No. 2 Alabama both averaged more than 35 points during the season, so seeing them engaged in a back-and-forth shootout wasn’t a shock. The combined 85 points are the most in a college football national championship game during the BCS and College Football Playoff era.

In Glendale, Arizona, Heisman Trophy winner Henry rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns, and Howard amassed 208 receiving yards with two touchdowns to help Alabama hold off Clemson. Watson, the Tigers’ quarterback, impressed with 478 total yards and four passing touchdowns, including two to Renfrow, but it wasn’t enough as the Tide won their fourth title in seven seasons.

Men’s basketball national championship — March 27, 1978

Kentucky Wildcats 94, Duke Blue Devils 88

at The Checkerdome in St. Louis

Notable performers

Kentucky: Jack Givens, Rick Robey

Duke: Mike Gminski, Gene Banks, Jim Spanarkel

What went down: Kentucky was a high-scoring team all throughout the 1977-78 season, routinely scoring at least 90 points. And it didn’t let up in the title game, as the favored and top-seeded Wildcats pulled out a victory over the Blue Devils behind 41 points from MVP Givens, who made 18 of his 27 shots.

The score might not appear high for a men’s college basketball game, but for perspective, in the past 10 years, only two teams have cracked the 80-point plateau in a title game.

Women’s basketball national championship — March 30, 1986

Texas Longhorns 97, USC Trojans 81

at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky

Notable performers

Texas: Clarissa Davis, Kamie Ethridge

USC: Cynthia Cooper, Cheryl Miller

What went down: Top-seeded Texas capped the first undefeated season (34-0) in NCAA history with a national championship in its first Final Four appearance. Not only are the 178 combined points the most in history, but Texas also set a record for the most points by one team. Only two other times has a team scored more than 90 points in the championship game.

Clarissa Davis scored 25 points off the bench to lead Texas and was named Most Outstanding Player, and Cynthia Cooper paced USC with 27 points. Cheryl Miller had 16 points, including 12 from the free throw line, a championship game record.


Soccer

Men’s World Cup final — June 29, 1958

Brazil 5, Sweden 2

at Rasunda Stadium in Solna, Sweden

Notable performers

Brazil: Pele, Vava, Mario Zagallo

Sweden: Nils Liedholm, Agne Simonsson

What went down: The 1958 World Cup final saw the most total goals scored with seven, the most goals scored by the winning team and is also tied with the 1970 and 1998 tournaments for the largest margin of victory.

In the final, Liedholm struck first, but Vava answered with two goals of his own to give Brazil a 2-1 lead at the break. Pele, who was making his debut on the world stage during the tournament, had two goals in the second half and Zagallo also found the back of the net for Brazil. At age 17, Pele became the youngest player to score in a World Cup final, and Liedholm, 35, became the oldest.

Women’s World Cup final — July 5, 2015

United States 5, Japan 2

at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada

Notable performers

United States: Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath

Japan: Yuki Ogimi, Aya Miyama

What went down: The United States and Japan were both favorites to reach the 2015 World Cup when the tournament began. The U.S. was ranked second in the world and Japan was fourth. Both teams were undefeated in the tournament when they met in the final.

The United States set the tone early with four goals in the first 16 minutes, including three by Lloyd for the fastest hat trick in World Cup history and the first by a woman in a World Cup final. Holiday and Heath also scored in the win.



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